In Folklore, Ancient Legend and As Far back as the
13th Century, La Befana Is known as
The "Giver of Gifts",
A Wise and Magical Woman who is Benevolent and Is Embraced in The Hearts and Minds of all Children and Their Families.
This legend of La Befana was created from a mixture of superstitions and religious beliefs. La Befana comes in all shapes and sizes depending on who is telling the story.
This is my story of La Befana.
It all started in the time of King Herod on the eve of the Epiphany
many years ago.
It's about a woman who lived just outside of a tiny village in Italy. She lived alone in a little house on the top of a hill. She lost her husband at a very young age and recently her only child which was a boy.
She always wore a shawl, her clothes were colorful and her shoes were tattered. She would spend her days and nights baking, cooking, sweeping and cleaning. Not only did she do all that, but she would also tend to her many gardens of vegetables and herbs. She would gather the herbs in bunches and mix them into brews making the perfect remedy for any ailment.
Now off in three different countries, three different priest astrologers set out on three different paths for the same journey to Bethlehem. They knew to follow the "bright star" in the sky which would guide them to where
the Holy Child would be born.
The astrologers were called the Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men, Melchior, Balthasar and Gaspar. As part of their religion, these priests paid particular attention to the stars. Each of them knew that a baby was going to be born and this baby was to be the Holy Child.
Each King carried with them a special gift to offer the child. One gift was of gold, another was myrrh, which is a holy oil and the third gift was frankincense, the finest of all incense.
On their journey, although they had walked along different paths and not far from Jerusalem the Three Wise Men met. Even though they spoke different languages, they understood each other and discovered they had the same purpose and continued on together.
Along the way to Bethlehem they met a woman sweeping outside her home and asked her to join them in their search for the Holy Child. The woman refused but invited them in to rest and insisted upon feeding them before they continued on their journey. After eating plenty and resting, the Wise Men asked the woman again to go with them. Still the woman refused explaining that she was alone with no help and had many chores to tend to.
When the Wise Men left her home the woman thought of how much she missed her own child and how much she loved children. This made her realize that she should have gone with the men. So as quickly as she could, she packed up a basket of food and all her child's belongings to offer the baby.
Out the door she went running with the basket, the toys and her broom following the "bright star" to lead her way to the "Holy Child".
After running for many miles unable to catch up to the Wise Men, the woman was not only discouraged she was exhausted. The day had become night and she realized that she could no longer continue on her journey without rest.
She decided to stop when she came upon a large rock. She leaned her tired body against it, sliding down toward the ground as she tilted her head back and closing her eyes to nap. When suddenly the woman was awoken by a brilliant light from the bright star and there before her stood an angel. The angel took the woman's broom, sprinkled stardust onto it and
as quickly as she appeared she had left.
Surprised by this wonderful sight, the woman took her broom and held it, realizing that the stardust was magical and so too was her broom.
Full of energy, the woman gathered her things and jumped onto her broom flying through the night continuing her journey.
For every baby and child that the woman came upon she would leave food and a gift, never knowing which child would be the Holy One.
What the woman did not know was that she did come upon the Holy Child.
In gratitude for the woman's generosity the Holy Child gave the woman the most wonderful blessing and gift of all.
His blessing to the woman was that for one night, and on the eve of the Epiphany for all eternity the woman would have all the children of the world as her own.
His gift was that he gave the woman a name, he named her "La Befana"
The "Giver of Gifts"
Copyright ©2007 LA BEFANA'S
Copyright ©2007 LA BEFANA'S